By Jill Girgulis, March 9 2018 —
After two full weeks of competition, the 2018 Winter Olympics wrapped up on Feb. 25. The high calibre event attracts spectators of all backgrounds and interests — sports fans or otherwise. While not everyone can relate to the enormous dedication and sacrifice required to become an Olympian, most of us understand the sense of pride attached to accomplishing a meaningful goal. I inherited my dedication to the Olympics from my family and I’ve been an avid spectator for as long as I can remember. The Olympic moments that persist in my mind long after the Olympic torch is extinguished have distinct context, emotion and significance. Here are some of my favorite Olympic moments from Pyeongchang 2018.
1. Felix Loch’s falter in the luge final:
Loch was the reigning two-time Olympic champion in luge, taking gold in Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010. He led the pack for three runs in Pyeongchang but made some tiny mistakes in his final trip down and skidded into fifth place.
Norbert Loch, Felix’s father and coach, was tearful when his son’s gold-medal slipped away. Norbert likely understood his son’s severe anguish better than anyone else Even as a spectator without personal attachment to the Lochs, it was terrible to watch. His spot at the top of podium seemed inevitable, but a performance 0.265 seconds slower than his competitors left him empty handed.
2. All three men’s moguls medallists beaming on the podium:
The men’s freestyle moguls skiing event concluded with the happiest Olympic podium in recent memory. Mikaël Kingsbury of Canada shot to the top, earning gold. Right behind him, Matt Graham won silver for Australia and Japanese skier Daichi Hara came through with bronze. All three men looked completely overjoyed on the podium.
They were all smiles as they carried their respective flags and posed for photos, proudly brandishing the black-and-white stuffed tigers representative of their medals. They evidently understand the enormous significance of winning an Olympic medal, regardless of its colour. The spectacle was refreshing after witnessing icons becoming frustrated for falling short or perfectionistic athletes act displeased with their performance, despite winning gold. After securing silver in Sochi 2014 and becoming the most successful skier in the freestyle skiing World Cup history, expectations were high for Kingsbury in Pyeongchang 2018. Watching him live up to his reputation and receive gold without arrogance was satisfying.
3. USA women’s hockey team breaking Canada’s 20-year gold-medal streak:
Team Canada is a dominant force in women’s hockey, taking the Olympic title for four consecutive Winter Olympics since Salt Lake City 2002. Preserving their title seemed inevitable — until the Americans tied up the game in the last six minutes, forcing the game into overtime. This led to the extended shootout that ultimately made Team Canada to sacrifice gold.
Canadian and American fans alike had reason to cry after this game. Team USA players and twin sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux scoring the tying and gold-medal winning goals, respectively, is heart-tugging. For Canadians, seeing assistant captain Meghan Agosta falter in the sudden-death round of the shootout was an emotional ride. Intense tragedy and jubilation were shared on that sheet of ice.
Both teams are at the very top of their sport and belong to neighbouring, competitive countries. It’s no surprise they’re bitter rivals. This made the loss sting extra hard. Conversely, defeating Team Canada was probably extra sweet for the Americans, who took home their first Olympic title in women’s hockey since Nagano 1998.
4. Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s delayed realization of winning gold:
Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have been skating together for 20 years. The captivating duo carried Canada’s flag in the Opening Ceremonies and led the team to an early gold in the team skating event. After coming in second in Sochi 2014, they reclaimed their Olympic ice dance title, after rising above France by less than one point.
Virtue and Moir’s free dance scores were first displayed on TV screens only visible to the audience, creating a brief moment where fans knew the results before the competitors. This gave us the privilege of witnessing the full spectrum of emotions cross the competitors faces in real time, from nervous anticipation to uncontainable ecstasy.
Virtue and Moir plan to retire from competition after Pyeongchang 2018. This means their gold-medal performance will stand as the last time the pair competed together on Olympic ice. Wrapping up their 20-year partnership with a world record score and becoming the most decorated figure skaters in Olympic history is about as storybook as it can get.